The government is considering making changes or clarifications to a recent order that required academic institutions to seek prior approval before organising any ‘international’ online seminars or conferences.
The academic and scientific community had objected to the order, with two of the largest and oldest science academies writing letters to the government, saying it would lead to “complete halt on all topical scientific discussions”.
Ashutosh Sharma, secretary, Department of Science and Technology, on Sunday told The Indian Express that the order was being “reconsidered”.
“Some reconsideration is happening. Obviously, the idea was not to curtail scientific discussions. But the science academies have expressed their opinion, and the government would certainly like to allay their concerns,” he said.
“I don’t know what the final outcome would be, but I think we can expect some form of modification or clarification. The matter is actively being considered,” he said.
The order, issued on January 15 — in the wake of new procedure notified by the Ministry of External Affairs last November — asks all government entities, including publicly funded educational institutions and universities, to “seek approval” of the respective “administrative Secretary” for organizing any “online/virtual international conferences/seminars/training etc”.
It also says that the ministry, while granting permission to hold such events, must ensure that the subject matter of the event did not relate to the “security of the State, border, northeast states, UT (union territory) of J&K, Ladakh, or any other issues which are clearly/purely related to India’s internal matters”.
In a letter to Human Resource and Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal and others, Partha Majumder, president, Indian Academy of Sciences had said that the order was “too constraining” for the advancement of science in the country.
“The Academy strongly believes that security of our nation needs to be protected. However, imposing a blanket requirement for obtaining prior permission to organise virtual scientific meetings or training programmes ‘which are clearly/purely related to India’s internal matters’ – without defining what is meant by ‘India’s internal matters’ – is too constraining for the progress of science in India,” Majumder had written in his letter, as reported by The Indian Express on Saturday
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